Saturday, April 4, 2009

Warning! Labels!

This afternoon, as I went out to cut up some firewood, I noticed an odd thing.

It wasn’t the fact that in the early 21st century, my family still warms itself around a wood fire. As far as I’m concerned, fire is an integral part of the human heritage. Computers and modems are all very well, but you really know you’re civilized when you can tame your own fire, I say. Now, if only I could chip a proper flint spearhead.

Nor was it the fact that I was personally cutting my own firewood. Being a Housebound Husband, there are limited opportunities to exercise my traditional male machismo. I don't drive a sports car. I don’t bring home a testosterone-enhancing paycheque. I don’t even like watching the Bathurst 1000 on the choob. But I do like to chop my own wood.

Anyway, what I noticed was the printed warning on the side of my $20 Chickenfeed axe. Wear Protective Goggles, it declared. And fair enough, I thought. It’s no fun getting woodchips in the eyes.

But then, as I was pulling the corroded elastic over my head, I thought: why am I obeying a stupid Chinese-made axe handle? Think about it. That warning doesn’t say "wear protective goggles to keep chips out of your eyes when chopping.” It just says “wear protective goggles." It’s like George Bush: either you’re with us or against us! Wear protective goggles or else! That’s what it really means. It’s not really a friendly warning at all. It’s an insidious attempt to take control of your life!

There’s a lot of this stuff around the place lately. My wine bottles try to tell me to Enjoy Wine In Moderation. Where the hell is this Moderation place anyhow? Why should the wine there be better than the wine here? Can I get frequent-flyer miles for my trip to Moderation City? If Pain Persists, See Your Doctor. Not Meant As A Life Saving Device. Use Only Under Adult Supervision. It never stops!

If there’s one thing that still raises the primitive beast in the heart of a modern man, it’s getting ordered around by a bunch of consumer goods. Bad enough that doctors and psychologists and feminists have all come up with reasons why men shouldn’t do fun stuff any more — now we’re expected to obey our groceries?

I don’t think so. I mean — I REALLY don’t think so. In fact, I say that it’s time we men got tough with uppity household accessories. Concentrate that oven cleaner and inhale like Bill Clinton at a Free Marijuana rally. Use superglue to stick your eyelids to your forehead while you drive heavy machinery under the influence of antihistamines. Don’t just use the hair dryer in the shower: move the whole bloody laundry suite in there while you microwave the cat! Rise up, my brothers! You have nothing to lose but your no-claim bonus. We’re repressed enough already. Let’s throw off the tyranny of inanimate objects and live as free men once more!

While you’re doing that, I’m just going to duck down to the doctors’ surgery to see about getting this chunk of ironbark out of my eyeball.